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15 Entrepreneurs Share How They Decide What To Say Yes To

I was thinking recently about the launch of our Savvy Business Administration Course and the number of 'yes' and 'no' calls I had to make to get the course to its opening day 10 weeks ago.

Had I not said 'yes' when this opportunity presented itself, I would have missed out on the valuable connections I have made with external organisations and the course participants, I wouldn't have developed the diverse skills I have learned through delivering an engaging and successful course, and I wouldn't have been involved with enlightening the lives of these incredible mums who desperately want to better themselves and the lives of their families.
But it's a fine line between the 'yes' and 'no' call sometimes.


How do you decide what opportunities to say yes to?

I have 'Brenda Mantras' on my phone that guide my decision-making.

One of them is 'First Resort Girl, not Last Resort Girl' - So if people have tried lots of others before me, then I know they are not really buying my special skills and brand.

Another mantra is: If it feels uncomfortable at the start of a project, it's only going to get more uncomfortable later on. These feelings can reflect a lack of rapport or 'fit' between me and the customer. This either needs to be fixed, or I need to find them the trainer and coach who is the right 'fit' for them. I am completely committed to people achieving their goals and living their best lives while on this earth - this commitment is more important to me than feeling everyone has to want to work with me.

Mantra 3: I am at my best when I am calm. So before I say yes, I look at my calendar to check whether I can do the design work and preparation required to deliver something awesome to the customer. I book all my prep work in as well as delivery. For me, that's about honesty and integrity. If I feel frazzled, then I can't be creative to deliver a good result. You can't have a trainer or coach who is frazzled.

-Brenda Ratcliff is an experienced MC, presenter, trainer and leadership coach. Her business MindMeld Coaching continues to flourish. Her weekend job is as a marriage celebrant, themed weddings especially.

This has become easier as we’ve grown and cash flow has improved. As a bootstrapped startup, we would say yes to most people with some cash, and in the early days we designed business cards, created video animations and even developed the online TV guide for Freesat in the UK (a BBC / ITV joint venture). We had the skills to learn most things and do them well and it helped fund our business in the early days, but they weren’t always the most profitable projects as we couldn’t deliver the solution efficiently due to the learning required each time. Through this process, we learned the value of becoming extremely focused. The back of my first Rocketspark business card listed about a dozen services we provide, and now it just says “Beautifully Simple Websites” as we’re 100% focused on developing the simplest website builder in the world that enables non-technical people (and partners like Strictly Savvy!) to create beautiful websites. 

-Grant Johnson is a co-founder at Rocketspark, the beautifully simple website builder. Rocketspark enables non-technical people to create their own website or you can get Strictly Savvy to create the site for you. Check out the Rocketspark’s easy to understand blog to learn more about how to make the most your online presence. 

If it pulls on my ‘heart strings’ or ‘purse strings’ then I will usually say yes. It’s taken me a long time to feel comfortable saying “No”, I don’t like letting people down. However, I find when I’m really tuned into ‘me’, it’s become easier to say ‘No’. Often it is accompanied by an alternative or a suggestion which usually turns into a better solution!

-Carissa Fairbrother is an Authorised Financial Advisor, Co-founder of RIVAL Wealth, a Financial Wellness Warrior and Keynote Speaker. Always happy to talk to one on one about getting financially organised.

By being better at the ones I say ‘no’ to and then working out from the remainder which best helps me achieve my business goals.

-Youssef Mourra is the founder of Nonsuch Consulting. Follow his irreverent utterances on the world of project management and strategic alignment on Twitter.

You just know, and if you don’t then either it’s not right or you shouldn’t be sitting that chair. The question is - how do you prove you should be saying yes to it? That's the key. It may be a good opportunity, but if you can’t prove it then you are running entirely on emotion rather than logic. Most business owners will have several opportunities staring them in the face at anyone time, gaining clarity as to which opportunity is best is the difference between using future success as a springboard or cement to fill the hole you have just created. 

-Jono Rees owns Boostnest, an accounting firm in Wellington, and provides direct, results focused advice for any stage of your business.


It all comes down to whether they're a 'HELL YES', and fit and align with my priorities in life, and business.

-Natalie Sisson is a self-proclaimed Freedomist and Founder of the Suitcase Entrepreneur and she's dedicated to ensuring entrepreneurs create freedom in business and adventure in life through better systems, daily freedom routines and the right mindset to grow and scale your business without you. You can catch her live podcast updates on Quest for Freedom here.

Crunch/model the numbers... halve them... and then follow my gut. 

-Lance Jensen is the founder of Red Hot Business Coaching. Check out his business blog and YouTube channel #FromTheCoachesRoom

Haha - I often find it harder to say no than to say yes. But this ends up that you are putting your energy into too many things, so lately I am learning to say no. It's not always urgent to do everything now. There is time. 

At the moment my goal is to build Private Box to a $1M business and for it to be a tool that anyone can use. If the opportunity doesn't fulfil on this then I let it pass (most of the time!). 

-Gareth Foster runs Private Box - a mail forwarding company with its HQ in Wellington. Think digital mailroom, outsourcing your mail, virtual office and living your life anywhere. Secure, fast & addresses in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. Your Mail. Sorted. Gareth also runs Office Box - a one-stop shop to get everything you need to start a business online and Adventure Kiwi - a free advertising platform for your campervan, motorhome or caravan.

Very poorly. But when I do, I ask myself 'Am I passionate about this opportunity?'.
I am learning that to say yes to something, means you need to say no to something you are already doing. So, what am I prepared to give up for this opportunity? I would tell my 22-year-old self this, but I know he wouldn’t listen because at 50 he is still struggling to do this.  

-Bruce Stormer is a Chartered Accountant who seeks to help business owners make the difficult understandable by explaining business and accounting terms in a way that his clients can relate to. For an example click here.

I ask myself questions:

  • Is it a core strength or am I good at it?
  • Do I want to be good at it?
  • I willing to do what it takes to fulfill the yes?

If I can’t answer my own yes then I’d rather be transparent, rather than lead someone up the garden path. 'Cause we all know the only thing up there is an oven that’s hot and ready.

-Nigel Fowler is super passionate about the products and services smart entrepreneurs are inventing every day. He is on a mission to tell the stories of businesses worldwide and write their web content for their website.

I ask the following questions:

  • Does it feel right?
  • Is it going to increase value for the business, customers and/or staff?
  • Do I have the financial, mental and emotional capacity to 'chase' the opportunity? I have to be careful to 'live within my means'

-Karl Baker is a creative entrepreneur who enjoys breaking rules and building innovative businesses. He is the founder and managing director of Mindfulness Works, the largest mindfulness training organisation in Australasia.

You've got to be prepared for the opportunity. So I find reading, thinking, being attuned to the industry and the market helps me to be prepared and say yes to opportunities you are ready for.

-Assia Salikhova is a dynamic entrepreneur, founder of NZ's largest business database and creator of profitable marketing ideas guaranteed to work for businesses of any size. Join a growing community here for the soon to be launched B2BMarketing Club.

Often it’s a gut reaction – does this sound fun?  But more seriously, clarity really helps here – does this opportunity fit my business’s purpose? 

-Cathy Sheppard is a leadership and team development specialist, with a passion for transforming businesses and changing people’s lives. She is the founder of BSI People Skills Ltd, helping businesses and organisations develop happy, healthy, high-performing teams.

Honestly, there is no special technique. I’m a pretty decisive person and I’ve learned to trust and follow my gut. It hasn’t let me down yet. If it feels right, go for it, and if it makes you feel ‘funny/ weird’ – get up and run far, far away without ever looking back. Life is way too short for regrets. 

-Jess Menon has built a business with clients all over the world, is an exceptional writer and a passionate vegan. Check out her CV writing and design company and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

I'd have to say gut. It really is that icky feeling in your stomach that means you should say no. If it gives you excited butterflies, that's the first sign to investigate further. I consider what the flow on effect would or could be - both good and bad, and for others.

-Me, Jo Muggeridge. The founder of Strictly SavvySavvy School and Savvy Spaces. Currently on a mission to upskill job seekers and mentor start-up virtual assistants so they too can have flexibility, freedom, and control in their lives.

In my next post, entrepreneurs share what they do differently. What sets them apart from others. Keep an eye out for it.


Jo Muggeridge | Founder & Leader at Strictly SavvySavvy School & Savvy Spaces


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